Saturday, January 22, under beautiful moonlit California skies, 35 of Northern California’s most talented amateur snowboarders were hand picked out of a USASA contest to compete in the second stop of the 2005 TransWorld TransAm at Northstar. Unless you live under a rock, you probably already know that the Tahoe area has seen more dumps this season than the bathrooms at a Taco Bell. In fact, Northstar has received fifteen feet of snow since January 1. With a winter like this, it’s a darn good thing Northstar probably has over a thousand feet of rails and fun boxes or else everyone in Tahoe would have to ride powder … big boxes, small boxes, c-boxes, up-flat-downs, flat-up-flats, down-flat-downs, flat-flat-flats: if you can build it out of wood, metal and plastic and slide it on a snowboard, then chances are Northstar has a perfect one.
With this many jibs at one mountain, there was only one thing to do for the TransAm: bring some more! In addition to Northstar’s perfect flat-up-flat box and flat-down box, the TransAm competitors had the opportunity to slide the new Smith Limo rail and bonk the High Cascade Snowboard Camp marshmallow.
Northstar provided all the fixings for the perfect contest: sun, warm temperatures, and perfect facilities. With all the cards in our favor there was only one thing to do: wait till 4:30 and start the contest in the cold, flat light. Contests aren’t allowed to be to be perfect, it’s some kind of cosmic law or something. Actually, the event was run in conjunction with the USASA half-pipe event and couldn’t start until it was finished. Since they put on such a great event over there, the event drew a whopping 80 competitors! Unless this was a GS Race where the whole point is to get done as fast as possible, there was no way it was going to be over early. Plus the pipe was so huge that each run took days.
In light of the fact that there was no light, the riders rode really well and all seemed to have a great time when 4:30 rolled around. Tahoe’s DJ Paul was spinning records and pumping up the sizeable crowd lining the jam area. For one hour the riders unleashed a free-for-all freestyle fury on the boxes and rails followed by a ten-minute Marshmallow Bonk Jam. Highlights included perfect tricks and painful ways to damage a limousine. You never know how well a driver’s side mirror is attached until you try and take it off with your back.
The standout rider of the day was young Chas Guldemond. Making the old Boothcreek Swap, Chas transplanted himself from Waterville Valley, NH to Northstar, CA this fall with friend and roommate Pat Moore. Coming off a decisive victory in the pipe with a run that included a sick backside 5, back-to-back 7’s and a frontside 9er, Chas proceeded to take apart the Smith Limo rail with tricks like a front board backside 270 out and a funny/crazy 50-50 front-flip out. The kid is solid. He left halfway through the event because he was hungry. The kid is strange. Other stand outs were a kid named Brady who looked like a banana, a kid named Brian Schuey who rides one-footed more than an amputee, the Witty brothers who rode with style way beyond there years and a gal named Jenna Waite who front boarded the smith limo en route to taking the women’s title. The winners of the men’s division rode with reckless abandon 270-ing on, off and during the Smith Limo, high above the quickly freezing ground. Robert Dawson came out on top with a superb 270, solid through and through and executed with style.
Enough about the riding … how about the judging? When TransWorld puts together a judging panel, they go all out. Who better to judge a rail contest at Northstar than a mix Tahoe rail-smiths like Jake Devine, Tim Eddy, Seth Neefus and Kellie Wright? Robbie Sell you might say? We tried to get him, but he was doing rails where TransAms and limos normally drive: the streets of Reno.
In the end the event was a success. Ride Snowboards kicked down a brand new board, Zumiez gave away gift cards, Smith provided sun glasses and goggles, DaKine supplied backpacks and gloves and High Cascade Snowboard Camp gave away gift packs and a chance to win a free session at its summer snowboard camp on Mt. Hood. See you at the next stop of the TransWorld TransAm: Bear Mountain, California, March 6, 2005. It won’t just be good, it’ll be Grrrrrrrrrrrreat.
Northstar-at-Tahoe TransAm Results
1. Robert Dawson
2. Yancy Caldwell
3. Tristin Sweigard
1. Jenna Waite
1. Brian Schuey